Viraj Kulkarni, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist II | Dr. Ruth Ruprecht's Lab | Disease Intervention & Prevention

Research Focus

Dr. Kulkarni’s research focus has been to develop vaccine strategies against HIV/AIDS. He is interested in studying vaccine-induced immune responses in primate models. A major aspect of his research is to identify and generate potent monoclonal antibodies against HIV and use them in passive immunization studies in rhesus macaques.

He is the leader of the Virology and Immunology Core of Dr. Ruprecht’s NIH-funded HIV Vaccine Research and Design (HIVRAD) Program Project grant and oversees several other research projects.


Inside the Lab

Dr. Kulkarni works on several projects involved in development of strategies to prevent HIV infection. Using recombinant DNA technologies, he develops novel monoclonal antibodies that are used against simian-human immunodeficiency viruses (SHIVs) in passive immunization settings.  Along with collaborators from MIT, he oversees the development of lymph-node targeting immunogens to induce strong cellular and humoral immune responses at mucosal surfaces.

He is also involved in the development of immunogens expressed from recombinant viral vectors to induce robust immunity against HIV. These approaches are currently being applied in studies focused on the reducing HIV reservoirs.

In collaboration with scientist from the National Cancer Institute, he is testing novel antiretroviral drugs. The drugs are being tested in rhesus macaques for their pharmacokinetics profiles as well as for their efficacy against SIV or SHIV.

Main Technologies and Methods Used

  • Profiling of antigen-specific cellular immunity by ELISPOT, intracellular cytokine staining, and tetramer binding assays
  • Antibody-based neutralizing assay, virion capture assay and ELISAs
  • Antibody effector functions: antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody-dependent phagocytosis (ADP) assays
  • Large-scale preparation of HIV/SHIV stocks
  • Molecular cloning and construction of infectious molecular clones